World’s highest motorable road ready in Ladakh

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed the world’s highest motorable road in the cold desert of Ladakh, which has boosted the troop movement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the eastern sector.
China had objected to the road construction up to Demchok, a village located at Zero Line, in 2016. This had led to a standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies in the sector. However, the motorable road has been constructed and its black-topping has already begun.
“Despite China’s objection, we went ahead with the road construction,” an official said. “In view of China’s repeated incursions in the area, the motorable road was most needed.”
In 2014, the Chinese army had come deep inside the Demchok area to protest against the construction of an irrigation project.
The 54-km road was constructed by the BRO’s ‘Project Himank’ in six years. The road is one of the three key links that were to be built by the BRO to meet the strategic requirements.
The road passes through the Umlingla top at a height of over 19,300 feet. Being close to Hanle, the road connects Chisumle and Demchok villages, 230 km from Leh.
Chief Engineer, Project Himank, Brigadier DM Purvimath, said the construction of the road at an altitude of over 19,300 feet was a daunting task with life-threatening challenges.
“During the peak of summer, the temperature hovers around minus 10-20 degrees C, and in winter it dips to minus 40 degrees. Oxygen level at that altitude is 50 per cent less. Efficiency of machines and manpower declines by 50 per cent due to the harsh climate and low oxygen level. The machine operators have to come down after every 10 minutes for oxygen. Nobody can survive at the spot for more than an hour without proper training and acclimatisation with the place,” Brigadier Purvimath said.
BRO personnel were acclimatised through a tedious process and a lot of training was given before assigning the job, said Commander, 753 BRTF, Pardeep Raj, who looked after the road construction in the sector.